DIABETES CARE: Benefits of ‘Cyber-Medicine’ for Poor To Be Studied
Researchers from two New York medical schools will bring telemedicine technology to rural and inner city residents to study the costs and benefits of ehealth on diabetes care. Using a $28 million HCFA grant, researchers from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and the SUNY Upstate Medical University will enroll 1,500 diabetic patients living in Harlem and other parts of northern Manhattan and rural areas in central and upstate New York, where access to affordable care is poor. Half of the patients will be equipped with computers and taught how to read blood sugar levels, check blood pressure and take pictures of feet and skin. The remaining participants will continue their current health care regimen. Researchers hope to determine: if telemedicine is cost-effective for the federal government; if doctors can better prevent diabetic complications, such as heart disease, using such technology; and if patients can get better care at a lower cost without frequent doctors' visits. "I think the success of the project will depend on answering all those questions well and using those answers to make good health care practices and policy," study leader Dr. Steven Shea of Columbia University said. He added, "The issue really is how will this technology transform ... health care in the U.S. ... This 'house call' of the future will allow patients and clinicians to reach out across any distance for care." Roughly 1.6 million New Yorkers suffer from diabetes (Reuters/CNN.com, 3/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.